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Classic Movie Characters: Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator

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Before The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was viewed as little more than a B-list barbarian. But director James Cameron helped turn his shortcomings into strengths. Not the most expressive actor? Doesn’t matter; he’s a robot. Can’t really pronounce the name “Sarah Connor”? So what? This cyborg lets his muscles do the talking. But seriously—give the newly minted governor the credit he’s due. His intensely singular performance as the killing machine that can’t be reasoned with blew us away in the first film. And in the franchise’s second installment, audiences were surprised to discover that the tin man really does have a heart.

Defining Moment: The “I’ll be back” slaughter scene at the police station is the obvious choice. But a more deserving moment might be when the Terminator takes a scalpel to his own skin in a skanky motel room. After popping out his left eyeball, he stares in the mirror. One mechanical pupil glows a ghastly red.

1984, Directed by James Cameron.

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